47 answers

Did I Overreact???? Updated My What Happened =-)

My 5 y/o son yesterday threw a tantrum like you wouldn’t believe. It was time to come inside from playing outside with his best buddy. We're neighbors. We had given the boys 20 minutes. My son has always been good about coming inside when I tell him times up. However my neighbor’s son is notorious for not listening and yelling at his Mom “NO!” He will even hit her if she tries to take him by the hand to go inside. My son yesterday was acting just like him except he never hit me. When the alarm went off and we said times up my neighbor’s son took off running down the street yelling "Shut up!" at his Mom. My son followed. First time he’s done this. When I caught up to him he yelled “NO!” about coming inside as my neighbor’s son is still running away from his Mom, AS USUAL.

I looked at him square in the eye and said Inside NOW! My DS said, but his friend wasn’t going inside, as he started crying and screaming, literally!!

I had to basically drag him inside after arguing for about 2 minutes. My neighbor and her son were just rounding the corner of the street we live on as I’m carrying my son inside. He proceeded to yell “See! He’s still outside playing!!! Put me down!”

I took him inside and yelled at him that his behavior was unacceptable and that he was grounded from playing with his friend the rest of the week!!!! I was SO MAD! I couldn’t even talk to him anymore.

This morning I feel terrible, absolutely terrible! His behavior was unlike him. He never is influenced by his friend's behavior until now. My Son is usually telling me that his friend behaves badly and should get a time out. I can’t help but feel that this episode is all my fault. Where did I go wrong??? I mean, I had to carry my son kicking and screaming inside the house??? What kind of mother am I??? I told my husband I felt like I had a 2 y/o in the house yesterday feeling totally defeated that I wanted to cry.

Please tell me what I did wrong!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

You all helped me feel a million times better!

Last night I talked with my son about what happened. Thank you for suggesting that. He said he was sorry for losing control and he understood the punishment still stands. You are all right in that I SHOULD hold my ground on the punishment I gave even if it was out of anger. I cannot go back on that but next time I will think before saying anything!

As I was tucking him into bed last night and we were giving hugs/kisses he apologized again! I didn’t even bring it up at all and he did that all on his own!

I’m going to drop it. He obviously feels bad and hopefully this means it will not happen again. At least not anytime soon =-)

If it wasn’t for all of you I would have made an even worse mistake and let him play with his friend this week just because I was feeling so awful. Thank you and I’m so happy I posted this.

Your advice is amazing!!!

Featured Answers

I think you did the right thing. I'll bet he learns a lesson and never does that again--and isn't that what you want?

6 moms found this helpful

You did the RIGHT thing - the HARD thing! Good for you! 5 year olds can be like 2 year olds sometimes, so can 10, 15, 20, you get my point :). He had a day where he wanted to be his own boss and did not want to follow the rules. You have to set them for him, which you did. Even if this behavior is unlike him, you did right to nip it right away, or he could do it again. It didn't work and he got consequenses, you did EXACTLY right. I know it is hard, it's always hard...but you didn't cross the line and you did what he needed. GO MOM!!!!!

5 moms found this helpful

You did nothing wrong! Yes, it's better to not get so angry and better to not yell but you're human, after all. And being grounded from playing with him for a week is a reasonable and logical consequence for acting like his friend.

I send you a hug and a pat on the back.

In similar situations, I've apologized to my daughter and grandchildren for losing my temper but still enforced the consequence while discussing what the child did wrong.

5 moms found this helpful

More Answers

You did nothing wrong (except maybe the losing your cool and yelling part, but we're all human, we've all been there). Your son acted like a 2yr old and you treated him like a 2yr old. He's starting to test you to see how far he can push. They do that at this age. The only mistake you can make now is giving in and letting him play today or for the rest of the week. Stick to your guns and hopefully, your son will learn that he can't behave like that.

8 moms found this helpful

I think you did the right thing. I'll bet he learns a lesson and never does that again--and isn't that what you want?

6 moms found this helpful

Definitely revisit the day with your son, and by all means if you feel bad about how you reacted then say that. some of my best moments with my kids have come after I said "although I was really unhappy with your behavior, I raised my voice and that was very unfair. I'm sorry for that and I will do better next time." I think it helps them feel a little safer, and it's an excellent model for them how to own up to bad behavior, and then you can discuss how YOU manage such feelings, so that he can be better prepared next time. Because of course you can be disappointed that you have to stop playing, and think it's unfair if another kid gets to stay out, but you don't get to act like a jerk! I imagine he was just trying it out, seeing how the other kid rules the roost he thought it would see what happens.

6 moms found this helpful

I don't think you did anything wrong. You couldn't let your son think that acting like the other boy was OK, or you would have an ongoing problem on your hands.

It is also OK to have a talk with your son now, after things are calmed down, about his behavior, why it's not OK, your behavior, and that you are sorry for it, but it was necessary at the time. I have occasionally apologized to my daughter, now 8, if I thought I overreacted. Apologizing doesn't make his actions alright, but lets your son know that you are taking responsibility for your actions, also.

6 moms found this helpful

You did nothing wrong! Yes, it's better to not get so angry and better to not yell but you're human, after all. And being grounded from playing with him for a week is a reasonable and logical consequence for acting like his friend.

I send you a hug and a pat on the back.

In similar situations, I've apologized to my daughter and grandchildren for losing my temper but still enforced the consequence while discussing what the child did wrong.

5 moms found this helpful

I don't think you did anything wrong. It FELT very, very wrong because of the way it turned out, which was a new "adventure" that you've never faced before. You're still in shock and confusion, and second-guessing yourself. That's okay – probably better than okay – because parents who never review what's working and what's not probably end up with a less satisfactory experience of child-rearing. So I hope you can cut yourself a little slack when all that emotion settles down.

People who pay a great deal of attention to such things tell us that ALL BEHAVIOR can be seen as a strategy to get some need met. Needs are always authentic (which does not mean they can't be prioritized against other needs and deferred to another time). If you look at any specific behavior, in a child or an adult, you can find that it's an attempt to get some need met.

With a child, or with a poorly-socialized adult, or with almost anyone having a bad day, the behaviors are often very poor strategies. Your son was trying out a new strategy, and it did not go well, for him or for you. You didn't let him get away with it. He probably won't try that particular strategy again, or at least not more than a few more times, UNLESS it works. So you did the right thing – made sure, as gently as possible, that it didn't work.

I recommend strongly the practical and brilliant book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Faber and Mazlish. The book is abundant with real-life examples of how parents helped set the conditions for the child to address the problem himself. And though we don't usually think about young children in these terms. they can be creative problem solvers. Plus, kids are more invested in solutions they think of themselves, and are more likely to work at making them a success.

Your son sounds like a bright child, and I believe both of you will LOVE the results you get from this book. I've used this approach with my grandson since he was 2.5, and find it wildly successful. He's now 5, and has experimented with a few less-than-successful strategies to get his own needs met. I wait till he's gotten past his initial upset, and then give him a chance to strategize a better approach for future use.

One of the things that your son will find useful is learning to recognize that the need he feels in the moment is really only part of a bigger constellation of needs, which must, for his own well-being, include the needs of his primary caregivers – his parents. His behavior last night was totally lacking that context. I think you're feeling bad because you had to forcefully override his needs (to keep having fun, to exercise, to learn through play, to connect with a friend, etc.) with your own (to be the watchful authority and guide, to run a successful home, etc.). But your needs were paramount in that situation, and your son's experimental behavior could NOT be permitted to succeed.

Did you overreact? Maybe, but that won't come clear for a while yet. It would be entirely appropriate to apologize for yelling – kids learn the art of apology by watching it in action. If you discover, before the end of the week, that your son IS able to set new behavioral expectations for himself and come up with a better strategy than he did, you can both joyfully revise the grounding. But until and unless you both get there, I'd stick with it.

DO try to get your son to interact with the situation, though. You may be impressed with how well this works. At the very least, read a few chapters of How To Talk.

5 moms found this helpful

Please, oh please, stop acting like this is your fault. It isn't, it isn't, it isn't! Your son had a full-blown temper tantrum. Yes, he is watching the neighbor boy's behavior and taking a page from his book. And you SHOULD ground him from playing with the boy.

If you allow him to act like this, you will rue the day you gave in to this.

Sometimes we just cannot put our children in circumstances that trigger these behaviors. Sometimes that means not taking them shopping when they are tired or hungry. Sometimes it means not letting them stay up past their bedtime. It can make our lives hard, Mom, because we don't always get to do what we want or need to do. One of my kids had meltdowns that caused me to have to leave the store,carry him out to the car kicking and screaming, strap him in his carseat, and wait it out. Then I'd drive him home. I learned that if we went to the park, and he started this, it meant taking him home. And HE finally learned that if he didn't calm himself down, he'd lose his privileges.

If you don't make him come in the house, what do you think you're going to do? Leave him out there, a 5 year old defying you, two little screaming and kicking kids telling their mothers what they're NOT going to?

Being a parent is hard. Sometimes hard means being tough even though it hurts. You ask what kind of mother does that. The question is, what kind of mother doesn't? You cannot let him rule the household. You just cannot. Please buck yourself up and remember that you have to teach him the right way to act.

All mt best,
D.

5 moms found this helpful

what other option did you have? letting him have his way wouldn't be any better, at least now, maybe he willhave learned that "momma don't play that game' and will listen the first time

5 moms found this helpful

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